Texas Storm on May 15, 2015

I was travelling from Dallas Fort Worth to Boston on May 25, 2015 when a large storm hit the Dallas area.   All planes were grounded for over an hour.   We had already boarded so we were kind of trapped on the airplane.   There was much grumbling, but we were not to know that Texas was getting seriously smashed and some people had actually drowned as a result.

Once take offs were approved the backlog was massive.   You can see just some of the queue in the photo below (as well as the continued rain and storm clouds):


The resulting flood was quite clear from the airplane once we finally took off:


There was only one approved flight corridor which turned out to be very hairy.   Even the horizon looked menacing but the clouds proved to contain some nasty surprises.


The video does no justice to the amount of turbulence we encountered, but the tension in the Flight Attendants voice says it all.  Do not get up!

Fortunately we finally cleared the storm and made it safely to Boston.   A tribute to the skill of the American Airlines pilots and the quality of the Boeing 737-800.


A view out of the plane window

Flying in an aircraft is about as close to magic as we can currently get.   The fact that we can be physically 40,000 feet in the air and totally safe is mind boggling.  Let alone how I can wake up in Melbourne and go to bed in Shanghai all in the space of a few hours.

I took these photos out of the window of a Qantas B737-800 in seat 4F (which is the front row of economy).   This was a 10am flight from Sydney to Melbourne.

First a view of the NSW Coast Line:IMG_5355

Until we ascended above a bed of clouds.   This was one of those perfect flat banks with an equally perfect blue sky overhead.


I always love to get a shot of the wing, as it reminds me of just how tenuous my grip on 40,000 feet actually is:


And then we descended through the cloud over Victoria:


The descent through the cloud bed was a thing of beauty so I made a movie and set it to music.   The song is Interlude by London Grammar.   It’s quite mesmerising.   You can view the movie in HD as well if your bandwidth is up to it.

All images were taken on iPhone 6 and then sized to fit for a blog page.    All images remain my property and can be used only with acknowledgment.

Building Harlequin’s Moon – A Sci-Fi novel yearning for a sequel!


Building Harlequin’s Moon is a brilliant Sci-Fi novel by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper. Unlike many of Nivens novels, this one does not fit into any of his existing series (like Ringworld or Known Space), but quite frankly I wish it was the start of a new one!   It not only offers a very well conceived vision of the future and the technology we will use in it, but also the struggles we will have when this technology allows us to change our very beings.

The novel has great structure, characters and vision.   Big picture concepts like the risks and challenges of nano-technology,  terraforming and cryosleep are all explored in great depth.

Great science fiction is all about suspending disbelief, being drawn into the challenges being presented, having characters you are cheering for and situations that need to be resolved through their ingenuity and determination.

I only hope that Larry and his co-writer is thinking of a sequel because it would be very welcome news if he created one.

Fruit Corso 2011

This ape is all seeds and nuts, his eyebrows all chili!

On Sunday September 11, 2011 I visited Tiel in Gelderland, (a province of Holland) to check out Fruit Corso, a celebration of… well… fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts!

Fruit Corso started in 1961 as a way for nine villages in the surrounding area of Tiel to promote local produce.  Displays on corsowagens (floats) became more and more complex with various teams trying to out-do each other to win the coveted prize of best float in the parade.

The displays consist of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, but arranged in ways you have never seen before.   The  designs aim to be unique and original and are constructed by volunteers over many many hours (after often months of planning).  There are not only floats, but also mosaics displayed along Tiel’s canals as well as a junior section for children to display decorated go-carts or bicycles.

The official website of the Fruit Corso can be found here.  It is in Dutch, but Google translate does a great job (especially if you are using the Chrome browser).

So what were the floats like?   In a word AMAZING!   I have uploaded my photos to Flickr so you can see them all there.   I want you to be in no doubt:  Every square inch of every float you see is covered in fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, all glued onto frames fashioned in various shapes displaying such things as monkeys, fashionable women, norse gods and chicken embryos:

Baby chick floating on a sea of cabbage!

There are no artificial colours, there is no paint, no marbles or tricks… it is all fresh and all real.  if you cannot see the photos below, they can be found on my Flickr account here.

Feeling keen to see it in person?   I strongly recommend you do so… it is a unique experience and isn’t that what travel is all about?   Seeing things you are not likely to see anywhere else?  I guarantee you will see that at the next Fruit Corso!

The next Fruit Parade in 2012 will take place on Saturday, September 8, 2012 (it is an annual event).
The floats will be exhibited on:
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012

There is also an accompanying pop concert, appropriately called ApplePop.  The official website for ApplePop is here.

Plus as an added bonus, there is a large market in the center of town that weekend…. something for everyone!

Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani Park, Yamanouchi, Nagano

I have always truly loved these little guys. The photos are priceless. Who would not want to be a snow monkey?   The original post is here:   http://lifetoreset.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/snow-monkeys-of-jigokudani-park-yamanouchi-nagano/

life to reset

“It’s hard to be part of the famous snow monkeys of Jigokudani Park. Just imagine the pressure when people from all over the world including media outlets like CNN or National Geographic annually visits you for a feature story. Obviously, they expect you on your cutest mood and if you are covered in snow, then its just perfect television”.

“Then, there are the tourists- who mostly armed with big cameras trying to capture our every move, I bet they have photo collection showcasing every angle of my red face. There was this guy who decided to point his camera lens directly to my face, I guess he is one of those who is planning to enter the annual photo contest.   I’m a good sport,  so I gave him one big yawn, and his camera shutter doesn’t stop clicking.  Funny actually, given how close his lens is to my face…

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Keeping in touch with the Dutch!

Last weekend was the annual Holland Festival in Melbourne.   It was a chance to see some traditional dancing and eat croquettes!

The food was exactly as I expected, although I personally did not try the stamppott!

Photo taken by Roland Gesthuizen

The poffertjes were also very good (and popular!).  One thing I had not seen before was this t-shirt with got drop? on it.   I am unsure how many Australians would have any idea what this means.     Maybe only a t-shirt you wear to the Holland festival?

Photo taken by Roland Gesthuizen

Two other things I spotted was a Dutch Monopoly board with Dorpstraat on it (a street with special family significance to me).

And the state costume of Gelderland, my family’s home province!

And finally…  I got myself a new favourite T-shirt: